The Spirit of Communication and ‘The Craic’
By Mairéid Sullivan, 1996
Recently I was asked what I thought has survived of ancient Celtic tradition in the same way that Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine have survived in ancient Indian tradition and Confucian philosophy and Acupuncture have survived in Chinese tradition.
And the first thing that came to my mind was Free Will and Free Speech!
Egalitarianism, personal sovereignty, free will, free expression through language, laughter, voice, and speech, have remained fundamental healing principles in Celtic philosophy since ancient times. Any other condition could be defined as subjection, oppression, or slavery.
It’s that simple! We know that when we are seriously unwell we must take stock of our lives to reclaim wellbeing and autonomy.
“The “CRAIC” (pronounced “crack”) is all about social interaction — conversation — the excitement that comes with sharing gossip and news, and, especially rousing and challenging conversation amongst equals: Energetic storytelling, conversation, and debate on important matters, all in the midst of music and laughter. This is the main focus of Irish social life and it has its roots in ancient Celtic ancestry and the continuing determination to maintain a sense of ‘inner’ freedom–Free Will and Free Speech.
Anyone who understands and celebrates the concept of Personal Sovereignty as referring to individual freedom and responsibility for acts of Free Will can become a lively communicator who knows the potential for ecstasy in good communication — new stories and new experiences to share, constantly renewing the thrill of discovery: The CRAIC! A joyous spirit, even with the history of suffering the Irish have endured.
In the ancient Celtic world view, Truth holds supreme power. The ‘word’ is sacred and imbued with real magic power and is not to be profaned. Truth is the foundation of speech and all words are founded on Truth. Weaving Truth into mythical stories is considered a high art within Irish culture.
The spirit of personal freedom is still alive in Celtic people. It carries a promise that the suppression of Celtic culture by various changes in the established order will never suppress the spirit of people who are brought up in an environment where personal responsibility for the definition of reality is considered an innate expression of personal freedom.
In recent centuries, archeologists have found traces of Celtic peoples across Europe from before 3000 BC. The name ‘Celt’ comes from the Greek word Keltori, meaning “the hidden people”. They were considered to be an elusive people of Indo-European roots on the periphery of the ancient Greek world. We now know that they were a rich and sophisticated tribal culture operating under a decentralised government system, united intertribally by shared language and philosophy. Their system of government was akin to the structure of modern day Switzerland. The Druids were the intellectual class, incorporating all professions.
Celtic culture successfully upheld social egalitarianism for thousands of years. Their philosophy which promoted personal sovereignty based on individual Free Will is unique in the history of European societies, where patriarchal hierarchy ruled from east to west.
The western world today is the successor of an empire-structured cultural heritage. The Roman Empire-State was hierarchal and authoritarian, e.g. women were considered bearers of children and objects of pleasure.
Celtic society was centred on moral order with a mythical worldview where men and women held equal rights. For the expansion of the Roman Catholic Church to succeed, the Celtic Druids’ world-view had to go.
Up until the seventeenth century, unlike the rest of Europe and England, Ireland’s Bardic schools had an educational tradition outside the monastic and ecclesiastical schools and turned out poets, historians, lawyers, doctors, etc. Legends speak of these schools reaching back before the 1st millennium BC, to ancient Druidic schools throughout the Celtic world.
We know from detailed historical documentation that politically heated public debate went on around the Catholic Church’s concept of Original Sin and the Celtic philosophical views on Free Will. The Celtic philosopher, Pelagius (354-420 AD), believed that the Church doctrine of Original Sin, which was expounded by Augustine of Hippo, would lead to personal irresponsibility since it was based on the theory that everything is preordained and that we are all imperfect sinners because we have inherited the original sin of Adam. This theory denied the individual’s capacity to live openly, with courage, and with Free Will.
In fact, the very concept of sin was foreign to the Celts. Pelagius argued that through the exercise of Free Will, where people’s choices were their own, people could be free of sin. This was judged as heresy, and Augustine initiated long arguments, condemnations and excommunications of Pelagius and his followers. Pelagius was excommunicated three times and eventually ‘reinstated’ each time. The Church did not win that debate and the Celts held their position on this central philosophical point up until the English invasions in the 12th century.
Augustine and his followers accused Pelagius of reviving the “Natural Philosophy of the Druids” — the belief that when the will is free there is no sin, and that we have the power to exercise choice in any moment, no matter what context. Pelagius wrote about ‘the ability, the will, the act.’ Many writers since his time have presented the same arguments, which we now refer to as ‘Pelagianism’.
In a free society, all people are equal in common law, and each has a right to exercise Free Will and Free Speech within the law. The government has a role in acknowledging and supporting the personal sovereignty of every individual.
The focus of my interest is in a deeper understanding of the concepts of Personal Sovereignty and Egalitarianism. These concepts are so contrary to the modern social philosophy that just coming to understand them is an education in itself. I like to convey my understanding of this perspective on freedom through the metaphor of the dance.
So, let us picture the dancer preparing standing still with eyes closed, concentrating all their attention on ‘being in the body’, noticing the energy that is focused within themselves — a profound sense of their nature, they may begin to move, exploring the ‘meaning’ of energy as they dance, concentrating on ‘inner stillness’ while slowly moving: shoulders dropped back; body light and loose, feeling the energy flowing up through the feet, all the way from the magnetic center of the earth.
In the next stage of this experiment, we concentrate on movement with others: first, moving toward another person; then, around another person, using the traditional dance patterns, all the while noticing the flow of energy. The main aim would be to maintain concentration on the quality of the energy and its fluctuation in relation to other people.
Free Speech demands self-transcendence: I and thou. A primal urge, no matter how that is defined socially. Self-transcendence is a natural process for the person who has been brought up with a worldview which sees the individual as a sacred conduit for universal energy, as Celtic philosophy exemplified.
The New World/America offered the first opportunity for the enshrinement of personal sovereignty, aka individual rights, in a centralised government. Free Speech was protected from government intervention. Even the early Greeks didn’t offer this breadth of personal freedom in their democracy. Socrates had to take hemlock to remedy this form of ‘free speech’.
Celtic people are now settled all over the planet. Remember that the Celts were originally a migrating tribal culture unified by language and fundamental egalitarian philosophy. Celtic people everywhere today are the inheritors of a culture foreign to the prevailing culture, with both foreign language and cultural concepts.
People today need to create a more ‘intimate’ process for development of deeper insight. For this, physics has met up with religious philosophy. The super paradigm of Living Systems Theory helps us recognize the connection between the physical world as we see it and the mysterious world, which we can only imagine. The idea that we are self-maintaining, self-renewing, and self-transcending beings has become a culturally acceptable concept. It helps us wrestle out of the two major old-world perspectives, the spiritual dictatorship of hierarchal dictatorial religious doctrines and our physical entrapment in materialism.
We are looking for a conduit: ways to perceive the ‘process’ of living so that we can more consciously participate in the creation of a new and improved sense of reality. We want to transcend our mundane reality in order to see ourselves as participating in the process of living — the Shapeshifting. We want to return full circle, back to ourselves, as creatures of Free Will and free expression reclaiming our personal sovereignty enhanced by the egalitarian perspective that we are all created equal and that knowledge brings responsibility.
We are ultimately free! We are witnessing the unveiling of the illusion of doctrines, in readiness for an epochal shift in societal perspective. So what are we supposed to do to be truly effective in bringing about the improvement we want in all of our lives? We must look closely at our ‘ability’; acknowledge our ‘will’ to choose, and then ‘act’. It’s the same ‘old’ Pelagian story that mainstream society chose to ignore and suppress more than fifteen hundred years ago when the philosophy was highly refined by the ancient Druids.
Spiritual reality is a place where we can be if we want to: a parallel universe, where we can freely allow our hearts to expand with the sublime qualities of love and compassion.
People who continue to compromise their values, who fluctuate and falter in their ethics, are holding back the power of love, which is the most sublime manifestation of evolution. These people need more energy! Creatively energetic people can develop the precision of originality needed to infuse their energy and their sense of awe into the sleeping masses, through ‘waking up’ to the knowledge — the realization that every person is truly connected to the energy of the universe and all its glory.
The concept of Personal Sovereignty is based on the truth that no two people can know the exact same reality. We only know that we can be aligned with one another in the daily unfolding of our personal lore/myth/truth. We can only watch each other and make alliances that support our courage, and provide the energy we need to better love each other and ourselves.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem
In actuality, the truth is the frontier of energy, and the free exchange of energy, via generosity and reciprocation, is the first principle of commitment to ‘Truth’ in manifesting love, the highest expression of energy: The true power of energy manifests in promoting unconditional love, and justice follows.
Throughout this entire life-long ‘learning curve’ laughter is the best medicine because laughter releases healing hormones. And, for that, we need good company: enthusiastic, challenging, and witty conversation, good music, and hearty hugs.
You have to laugh!
About the Author:
Maireid Sullivan is a singer, songwriter, poet, student of history, filmmaker and a digital media arts practitioner. She was born near Bantry, County Cork, Ireland. She has also lived in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia, where she currently resides. For further information see her website: www.maireid.com. You can find her Celtic Music CDs on Bandcamp.